Season Two

A new season of stories on FiftyTwo.in

Week Ninety Three

Killey, Part One

In 1996, a Kashmiri carpet trader was picked up in Kathmandu and accused of orchestrating two bombings in north India. It took hundreds of witnesses, four different courts, and 23 years of incarceration, before he was free again.

Week Ninety Two

The Advocate

In the middle of the twentieth century, country after country threw off the colonial yoke in East Africa. An Indian lawyer represented the men who would become the dissidents and presidents of the future. It was a ringside seat—until they reached his doorstep.

Week Ninety One

Identity Crisis

The efforts of Argentinian grandmothers transformed forensic science and how it identifies the dead. In India, however, the official approach is still catching up. At no time is this more evident than during natural disasters.

Week Ninety

The Italian Job

In the farms of Italy, the dreams of Punjabi migrants sour like curdled milk. One man, pushed to the brink, had to confront the very demons he wanted to escape back home.

Week Eighty Nine

Demolition

Three decades ago, the destruction of a mosque in Ayodhya changed the course of Indian history. A writer recounts what life was like before the dismantling.

Week Eighty Seven

Uprooted

Residential schools for indigenous people have a long and dark history around the world. In Odisha, children are recognising how these schools, newly funded by mining companies, are changing their lives—and that of their communities.

Week Eighty Five

The Slide

For years, Himachal Pradesh was on an environmental precipice, brought to the brink by official neglect. A murderous showdown at a Kasauli hotel laid the fault lines bare.

Week Eighty Four

Hunger

Power cuts. Fuel queues. Popular uprising. A historic and crisis-ridden year in Sri Lanka is drawing to a close. For many, the battles are just beginning.

Week Eighty Three

Pending

Bihar was the model state in the days soon after the Right to Information Act passed. Then began the slow slide into intimidation, chaos, silence—and much worse.

Week Eighty Two

Hijacked

1971 changed the course of subcontinental history in more ways than one. Far from the field of battle in Bangladesh, hijackers diverted a plane from Srinagar to Lahore, shaking up Pakistan’s Kashmiri community, and changing one family forever.

Week Eighty One

The Match

A generation of Europeans is now returning to Sri Lanka, a country from which they were adopted as children, to search for their birth mothers. What they learn about their families, and themselves, has deep consequences.

Week Eighty

Knife in the Back

In western Rajasthan, Dalits may be murdered for the endearments they call their children, for twirling their moustaches—or for their social media. This is the story of one young man’s death and how it is foregrounded by a legacy of caste crime.

Week Seventy Nine

Title Deeds

For a decade now, Ruby Hembrom has been publishing stories that aim to get close to the lived experience of Adivasis. Her own life story reflects the big themes of that project.

Week Seventy Six

Relish

Hot. Sweet. Sour. Tangy. Food companies trying to turn tomato ketchup into an Indian condiment attempted every trick in their book. This is the story of how they succeeded.

Week Seventy Five

Human Touch

Artificial intelligence may be making some jobs obsolete but it has given a new lease of life to one group of people who play an unglamorous but critical role in the machine learning pipeline: first generation women workers in Indian towns and villages.

Week Seventy Four

Pen Friend

Even as the mass nationalist movement was gaining steam and popularising its ideas in print, one family’s own smaller newspapers insisted on a different kind of freedom—from the shackles of caste, illiteracy and poverty. Meet the Bhalekar-Patils of Tarawadi.

Week Seventy Three

Horses

An unusual sight pops up along the highways veining southern Jharkhand: paired statues of horses. Soon after moving to the Seraikela region, the author set out to find their origin story. It turns out there are more than one.

Week Seventy Two

Eulie

Chandigarh, one of the great projects of the new Indian republic, is forever associated with the genius of its Franco-Swiss chief architects. But it was also a fresh beginning for a generation of brilliant young Indians. One of them was the only woman architect in the group, who made the city her own.

Week Seventy One

The Adversary

Karnataka and Naxalism are not often spoken about in the same breath. But for a whole decade, an enigmatic man named Saketh Rajan led the movement in the state. It wasn’t even his sole name, or claim to fame.

Week Seventy

Restricted Code

Many Indians believe Sanskrit is a perfect language for computer programming and AI research. State-led programmes have deepened the impression. Indian scientists working on AI research would like a word.

Week Sixty Nine

Cast Away

For two decades now, fish have dwindled along Gujarat’s shores. So local fishermen have to go further out, closer and closer to danger: the unmarked, watery border between India and Pakistan.

Week Sixty Seven

Man of Culture

A bacterium found on a remote Pacific island first became the obsession of a Punjabi microbiologist. It then became a wonder drug that gave hope to millions around the world.

Week Sixty Six

Resistance

In the mid-1970s, a remarkable cohort of women found themselves in Bombay. They believed there was more to science than labs and male geniuses. Some of them would pioneer the cause of feminist science studies in India. These are the women who paved the way for themselves.

Week Sixty Three

Off Balance

In places like Saharanpur and Buldhana, a rare genetic disease has been taking away control of bodies, lives and livelihoods from entire neighbourhoods. Against all odds, a few scientists and doctors are determined to ease the pain.

Week Sixty Five

Exceptions

The ‘disturbed areas’ and ‘illegal migrants’ of today’s India were yesterday’s ‘scheduled districts’ and ‘criminal tribes.’ The line between the past and present is straighter than you think.

Week Sixty Four

Crossfire

Two trends mark the Great North Indian Wedding today. The first is gunshots. The second is orchestra dances performed by women artistes. Together, they’ve created a minor epidemic of crime headlines.

Week Sixty Two

Home Alone

In the 1990s, most Pandits were displaced from the Kashmir Valley. The ones who remained are still fighting to be heard and seen.

Week Fifty Nine

Estate

Forty years ago, there were two parallel movements in Bihar. One wanted a separate state. This is the centuries-old story of the second one: the movement for the independent country of Kolhan.

Week Sixty

Brown Hunters

Shikar: the sport of kings, the symbol of colonial power play, legacy of an unfair age. But for a few years in independent India, it was also a source of income for a poor country—and a calling for the brown hunters, men trying to adjust to a changed world.

Week Fifty Seven

Doctor Who

He was a doctor on a tea estate in Assam. He studied at a prestigious college. Like thousands of other medical professionals in rural India, he was also not the person he claimed to be.

Week Fifty Eight

Footsoldiers

Political violence in West Bengal isn’t a new phenomenon. It isn’t dominated by election cycles. It doesn’t follow the same patterns as elsewhere in India. This is an explainer from those who’ve survived it for half a century.

Week Fifty Six

Ire on the Mountain

Some years before reality TV in India went full rogue, a primetime show had five civilians reach the basecamp of the world’s highest mountain. An oral history of ‘Mission Everest.’

Week Fifty Five

Your Honour

Priya Ramani spoke up during 2018’s MeToo movement. A Union minister filed a criminal case against her. The consequences were severe—but also offered hope for the future.

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